The Wolves of Brandenburg
“The Semnones give themselves out to be the most ancient and renowned branch of the Suevi. Their antiquity is strongly attested by their religion. At a stated period, all the tribes of the same race assemble by their representatives in a grove consecrated by the auguries of their forefathers, and by immemorial associations of terror. Here, having publicly slaughtered a human victim, they celebrate the horrible beginning of their barbarous rite.”
“Reverence also in other ways is paid to the grove. No one enters it except bound with a chain, as an inferior acknowledging the might of the local divinity. If he chance to fall, it is not lawful for him to be lifted up, or to rise to his feet; he must crawl out along the ground. All this superstition implies the belief that from this spot the nation took its origin, that here dwells the supreme and all-ruling deity, to whom all else is subject and obedient. The fortunate lot of the Semnones strengthens this belief; a hundred cantons are in their occupation, and the vastness of their community makes them regard themselves as the head of the Suevic race.”
- Tacitus, Germania
Caern: Grunewald Forest, Berlin
Sept Name: The Green Wood
Type: Harmony (Wisdom)
Tribal Structure:Multi-tribal, but closed. Silver Fangs, Get of Fenris, and Glass Walkers welcomed. Bone Gnawers must swear fealty to the Silver Fangs in order to access the caern. All others by invitation only.
Totem: Old Whiskers, a powerful fish spirit taking the form of an immense Wels Catfish.
COUNCIL OF ELDERS
The Sept of the Green Wood is governed by a council of elders, of which Iron Shield is the Grand Elder or Council Spokesman.
Caller of Wyld: Serpentbraid
Truthcatcher: Gretchen Blessed of the Sun
Talesinger: Blooms at Midnight
Master of Howl: Iron Shield
Wymrfoe: Open, typically rotated with the honor bestowed by Skullcrusher
The Grunewald had been a hunting ground of the Hohenzollerns for centuries, officially since 1542, but the woods had been used for long before that. However, as the city of Berlin grew, it became obvious that changes would be coming to the woods. Silver Fang kinfolk connected to the Hohenzollerns had long been appointed the foresters and huntsman of the Grunewald. Thinking the site could be preserved against the encroaching city, the Silver Fangs and Get of Fenris worked together to perform the Rite of Caern Building in 1870 hoping to use the Gaian energies to protect the greenery of Berlin. Despite offers of help from the local Glass Walkers, the Silver Fangs refused.
In 1904, the Kaiser opened the Grunewald to public use and ended the royal hunting in Berlin. It was an inevitable decision because the occasion of the court’s annual St Hubertus Day hunts (November 3) became a spectacle where thousands of Berliners invaded the woods to watch the royal hunt. However, it became apparent that real estate developers intended to purchase most of the forest for commercial use. In response, politics intruded as citizen groups pushed for protection of the whole forest. The Glass Walkers used their influence among the Flock extensively to preserve the Grunewald which culminated in the Dauerwaldvertrag agreement that protected the entire forest in 1915. Reluctantly, the Silver Fangs agreed to open the caern to the Glass Walkers as well as to the Bone Gnawers that helped them, but only if they would swear fealty to the local Silver Fang leaders.
The caern is therefore extremely young with some of the original caern builders still present. The formation of a new sept has destabilized some of the Garou protectorates in Germany. Formerly the Spree and Havel rivers acted as a border between the Lakeland and Lusatian Protectorates. However, with the destruction of the Lusatian caern by open pit peat mining and creation of a new caern at the border, individual packs had to choose which sept to support.
Both the Silver Fang and Get of Fenris are highly organized, the Silver Fangs obsessed with ceremony and the Fenrir with discipline. As a result, moots are very formal, and the rules governing Garou activity within the bawn very clear and enforced.
1. Garou entering the Grunewald for any reason must leave a tithe with the sept leaders, typically at the Maison am Havel.
2. Garou who stay over the night must participate in rituals of bonding with other Garou at the sept in order to promote harmony and concord. Typically this involves sharing in a communal meal and providing something potluck to share with everyone else.
3. Private actions that frighten the flock away from the Grunewald is forbidden, including revealing oneself in Crinos form. Such actions are in defiance to the purpose of the caern and are strictly forbidden. Unless authorized by the Caern Warder in defense of the sept, violation leads to immediate banishment from the Bawn, and if repeated, death.
4.Changing into Crinos to invoke the Delirium to “protect” the Veil is not acceptable. Since one in ten humans are immune to the Delirium, it is no guarantee they will forget anything. Furthermore, there are plenty of supernatural creatures who are immune and will investigate news of wolfmen.
Sept moots are held under the first Crescent Moon of the lunar month as befits a Caern of Wisdom. All active members of the sept are encouraged to attend the Moot every month. Packs less tied to the caern, but still wishing to be accepted as members of the sept are expected to attend one sept moot every changing of season. The extent of one’s involvement in the sept moots affect the level of cooperation and access to the caern given to them. The most important moot is the first crescent moon that occurs after the winter solsltice, considered to be the anniversary moot establishing the caern. Attendance is mandatory unless there is a very good excuse explaining why.
As a caern of Harmony, the importance of peace and concord among Garou are stressed. As such even challenges between Garou are done in a way to restore relations between Garou rather than to simply settle a disagreement. As a result, some of the more warlike Get of Fenris have choosen to move to another sept. This does not indicate a dislike for the caern, as Get hold all Caerns as invioably sacred, just that it does not work for them. Those Get of Fenris who emain envision themselves as members of the sacred brotherhood of warriors especially called upon Gaia to act as fingers on the same hand.
The presence of mortal so close to the caern complicates the usual revel of the Garou done at the end of moots. Therefore, Revels are strictly controlled, and the position of Wyrmfoe bears an additional challenge of leading the Garou in an enjoyable revel without endangering the Veil.
MAGIC OF THE FOREST
Old Whiskers is a particularly powerful Totem for Berlin, the largest inland port in Europe. The many waterways crossing the city are his domain. They are connected mystically by Moon Bridges. All bodies of water within the park, and the rivers Havel and Spree inside the city limits of Berlin and Potsdam are thereby connected. A Garou only needs to submerge himself in that body of water and spend a point of Gnosis to travel instantaneously to any other connected body of water.
In order to maintain this magic, the sept elders must hold annual ceremonies to Old Whiskers and on the same evening perform a quest for her. Customarily, his will is that someone responsible for polluting his waters be punished.
Caern Totem is a fish spirit, a Jaggling assuming the form of a Wels Catfish that the Garou affectionately named Old Whiskers. Old Whiskers has an extensive brood of gafflings doing his bidding. These are primarily fish spirits, but also include many others. The spirits of those animals that feed on fish give Old Whiskers homage as the great provender, the lord who gives them their food. The spirits within the Bawn also acknowledge him as their lord, and this includes various animal spirit gafflings and even a few jagglings.
The borders of the Grunewald Forest itself form the Bawn.
GRAVES OF THE HALLOWED HEROES
Located in the Grunewald is Friedhof Grunewald-Forst, a cemetery also known as the Cemetery of the Nameless. This area was traditionally used to bury people who committed suicide and could not be given a Christian burial. The Garou of the Sept have selected this area as their Grave of the Hallowed Heroes. It will be turned into a regular cemetery in 1928.
Being located inside the borders of a great metropolis, the Grunewald does not have one single common living area. Many Garou stay in the inn at the Maison am Havel as permanent (non-paying) guests. Others live in the woods itself, primarily the Bone Gnawer pack of Battle Cry, either as homids or lupus. The Glass Walkers choose to maintain tribal living quarters outside the woods in the Zehlendorf neighborhood.
There are various small shrines throughout the Grunewald Forest to other spirits than the Sept Totem. These are either dedicated to imported spirits dwelling in the forest, or to the totem spirits of the tribes and packs of Garou who live in the sept. All shrines in the forest are in the Bawn away from the Caern Heart.
The tribal totems are located together in the “Garden of the Gods,” a garden maintained around an abandoned log cabin supposedly used as a shed for maintenance of the park. There small carved stone statues with the images of Falcon, Fenris, Rat, and Cockroach decorate the small garden.
In addition to these, in separate areas of the forest are small shrines to Boar, Stag, Owl, and Wild Sheep.
When the Sept needs to gather it meets at the Maison am Havel, a complex containing an inn, restaurant, beer garden, and boat docks for private tours of the river. The inn is completely run by Garou kinfolk, and their only guests are Garou or kinfolk who know the secret. When the Moots come to a close, the assembled Garou go over to the Catfish Spawning Ground to give Gnosis. Members of the Flock who know the Grunewald know to avoid this area at night…there are stories.
The Caern Heart is a secluded area along the Havel where the water enters a small inlet blocked off by the forest’s trees. In this inlet is a spawning bed of Wels Catfish, and it is here that the Caern Spirit resides in the Umbra. Nearby is a large oak tree where the Garou maintain a sacred bee hive. It is at this tree that the Gatekeeper can open the sept’s Moon Bridges.
Garou that meditate near the river inlet gain insight into the hearts and souls of others in promotion of unity with other people or the world as a whole. Opening the Caern here grants dice to Empathy and Etiquette.